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Posted by Barry on May 31, 2011

Summer Nutrition

Now that the weather has started to warm up, your nutrition needs are going to change a little bit. Sure, the basics stay the same – you need to eat a balanced diet, watch your caloric intake, etc. Many people work hard throughout the winter and spring to eat healthy, exercise and shed pounds before summer. But as bathing suit season kicks into full gear, even the most disciplined can lose sight of their focus due to the sweet and savory temptations that are plentiful at family barbecues, ballgames and festivals. While the urge to indulge may prevail over good nutrition from time to time, moderation is the key to enjoying the summer season without packing on the pounds.

Below are a few suggestions to help you stay healthy and avoid all the wonderful pitfalls of my favorite season of the year.

Drink water. It is always important that you get enough water in your diet. Water helps to make all of your bodily functions work properly. It helps with the digestion of any of the other foods that you take in. Drinking water helps to keep your energy levels up. It’s particularly important in the summer since it’s so warm outside. Your hair and skin can easily dry out in the summer but this problem is prevented (at least in part) when you drink enough water. Drink the minimum of eight glasses of water per day. Try to get in other forms of water as well.

Cut back on the caffeine. Not only do you want to make sure that you are getting enough water in the summer but you also need to make sure that you’re not getting too much caffeine. Among other things, caffeine can dehydrate the body, which will negate the positive effects of all of that water that you’re drinking. You can’t afford to have that happening during the hot summer months so you should cut back on coffee and soda. If you can’t stand to only drink water then you can add unsweetened herbal iced tea and low-fat milk to your diet.

Eat more berries. Your body will be better capable of storing the water that you’re providing it with if you eat the right foods. Berries are some of the best foods that you can add to your diet in the summer. Not only do they assist your body in using water but they also taste nice and refreshing during that summer heat!

Get in your protein. Many people tend to reduce their protein intake during the warmer months of the year. Your body just doesn’t crave all of those meats in hot weather. However, you don’t want to neglect protein altogether. It’s an important part of your diet. Plus, it’s going to help your hair stay healthy which can be tough in the summer months with all of the warm weather and chlorinated swimming!

Add vegetables to the grill. One way that people do get their protein in during the summer is by grilling meat on the barbecue. That’s great (especially if you’re choosing smart, lean cuts of meat). However, you shouldn’t neglect the opportunity to get in some other important nutrition during this time as well by adding vegetables to the grill. Make some shish kebabs or simply add veggies to the top of the grill so that you’re getting more than just your protein every time that you barbecue.

Get enough potassium. Many people tend to be more active in the summer months. There are more hours in the day so you have more time to get outside and horse around. Unfortunately, sweating during the summer months can cause muscle problems because it throws off your electrolytes. You can avoid this problem by making sure that you get enough potassium into your diet during the summer months.

Eat seasonal produce. There are a lot of really great foods that come into season in the summer. They help to form the bulk of your healthy diet at this time of year. Both fruits and vegetables that come into season throughout the summer will be great for your body.

Eat fruit smoothies instead of ice cream. It’s tempting to eat some foods during the summer that really don’t offer the best nutrition for you. Ice cream is a terrific example of a summer food like this. Learn to make substitutions so that you’re eating foods that are just as refreshing but a lot healthier for you. Substituting fruit smoothing (made from milk, yogurt and fresh fruit) for your ice cream is a great example of how to do this.

Summers brings on its own challenges and below are the two most common problems that happen during the sunny season and what to do about them.

Dry or Damaged Skin

You sweat more in the summer, so skin is less supple; plus, saltwater and chlorine have a drying effect. Sunburns and bug bites are also saboteurs of healthy skin.

Help heal weathered skin with foods like raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, which are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. Protein, in the form of lean meats, beans, nuts, and seeds, is also key. Keep dryness at bay by drinking lots of water. Women drink 92 ounces (8-10 cups) of water in the summer and men 125 ounces to prevent dehydration.

Muscle Cramps

Too many games of beach volleyball (or other outdoor exercise) can give you muscle cramps. Muscle cramps result from overexertion and dehydration. When you don’t have enough fluid in your system, it leads to an electrolyte imbalance that causes your muscles to cramp up. Sodium, calcium, and potassium are the main electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise.

Replenish electrolytes with a drink that contains them (like the P90X Results and Recovery Drink) and drink plenty of water. I make a point to have a recovery drink after any of my “summer” activities as it not only replenishes my body, but makes me ready for the next activity.  Also eat potassium-rich foods such as bananas, raisins, potatoes, and spinach.

The key is that now that you are in better shape you will be doing more and exerting yourself as you take advantage of the wonderful weather.  Make sure you are smart so that your body has what it needs and that you continue to reap the benefits of all that hard winter work.

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